By DEANNE JOHNSON
LISBON - An East Liverpool man who attempted to rob the occupants of an apartment at gunpoint last June was sentenced Monday in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court to nine years in prison.
Robert Ross, 24, Northside Avenue, was facing between three years and 22 years in prison along with up to a $35,000 fine.
Assistant County Prosecutor Ryan Weikart recounted the story of Ross, who was wearing a mask and a toboggan-style hat when he broke into an East Eighth Street apartment home with four people inside on June 8. He then held Laura Humphrey, Daniel Carnes, James Oiler and Mark Clendenning at gunpoint while he demanded money and their belongings.
At some point during the confrontation, Ross fired his gun at least three times and struck Carnes in the left side of his body. Weikart noted Ross had inferred he was not the one who fired the gun, but Weikart said forensic evidence found Ross' DNA on the trigger, not Carnes'.
Ross' attorney, Jennifer Gorby, asked Judge C. Ashley Pike to consider a lesser sentence for Ross, noting he has a 2-year-old child he cares about. She added that after residents of the apartment took the gun away from Ross, he was severely injured by someone beating him with a baseball bat.
According to news accounts at the time of the incident, a resident from the upstairs apartment reported someone was being beaten to death downstairs, Gorby said. Both Ross and Carnes were transported initially to East Liverpool City Hospital with Carnes being sent later to a Pittsburgh area hospital.
Ross told Pike people may consider him a "bad boy," but he plans to use his prison sentence to come out the type of man his daughter deserves for a father.
"I've been making mistakes since I was old enough to make them," Ross said.
Pike agreed, noting Ross' significant juvenile record as well as multiple prior felony convictions. He questioned why Ross suddenly cares about his child when he did not on the night he broke into the apartment.
Ross said the mother of his child moved away to Indianapolis and he did not handle it in the right way. He said he now knows there are other things he could have done instead of breaking into a home to rob someone.
"Frankly, I don't like your attitude," said Pike. "You say they call you a bad boy and they may, but you seem to have a chip on your shoulder."
In other sentencings before Pike on Monday:
- Lee A. Webb, 54, East Fourth Street, Salem, was sentenced to seven years in prison for possession of drugs, a first-degree felony, a specification for $2,500 in his home, and for having a Mossburg 12-gauge shotgun in his home after having a previous drug-related conviction in August 2007.
During an execution of a search warrant, authorities reportedly found about 35 grams of cocaine in the house on July 2, 2013. Additionally, Weikart noted Webb has at least six prior felony convictions. Weikart pointed out it seems Webb has not gotten the message during his prior convictions and it would appear the only way to prevent him from using drugs is with prison time.
"I know my record's not good," Webb said prior to sentencing, adding he has a serious drug problem and he is working to stay clean now.
- Nicholas L. Weyand, 25, Chaffin Avenue, East Liverpool, was sentenced to eight months in prison for two counts of drug possession for having cocaine and alprazolam tablets in a baggie in his pocket on May 23, 2012. Additionally, he had a forfeiture specification for $75 in his possession.
Weyand's attorney, Kelly Linger, asked Pike to consider sending Weyand to the Eastern Ohio Correctional Center in Wintersville to get the help he needs for a drug addiction. Weyand himself said he has been to prison before and the drug program there did not help him when he got out.